Otago Daily Times

Med­i­cal ad­mis­sion chal­lenge un­sound


WELLING­TON: A Victoria Uni­ver­sity law lec­turer is not sur­prised a le­gal chal­lenge against Otago’s med­i­cal school ad­mis­sions process was dropped, say­ing it had no chance of win­ning in court.

The le­gal dis­pute was cen­tred on the le­gal­ity of the uni­ver­sity’s pref­er­en­tial en­try path­ways for Maori, Pasi­fika and other un­der­rep­re­sented groups, whose mem­bers can be ac­cepted into med­i­cal school with­out nec­es­sar­ily achiev­ing top grades.

The path­ways were de­signed to cre­ate a health work­force that bet­ter re­flects New Zealand’s pop­u­la­tion, but it has cre­ated an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents who are not el­i­gi­ble that way, be­cause nor­mal spa­ces are lim­ited.

The le­gal chal­lenge ap­pli­cant, who has name sup­pres­sion, said in a state­ment of claim the uni­ver­sity was run­ning an ad hoc dis­cre­tionary sys­tem of ad­mis­sion for the pref­er­ence cat­e­gories, and not all el­i­gi­ble stu­dents for the pref­er­en­tial en­try path­ways were meet­ing the min­i­mum grade thresh­old needed to be ac­cepted.

Victoria Uni­ver­sity law lec­turer Ed­die Clark said pref­er­en­tial en­try path­ways were en­tirely le­gal un­der the Ed­u­ca­tion Act and el­i­gi­ble stu­dents did not need to meet the min­i­mum grade thresh­old.

‘‘There’s a re­quire­ment in the Ed­u­ca­tion Act that peo­ple meet the min­i­mum en­try cri­te­ria for pro­grammes, but then there is a carve out for that where the in­sti­tu­tion is sat­is­fied that through other means the per­son is ca­pa­ble of un­der­tak­ing the pro­gramme,’’ he said.

‘‘So the pro­gramme can ex­ist and it doesn’t need to en­force the min­i­mum en­try re­quire­ments that nor­mal ap­pli­cants need to meet.’’

‘‘I don’t think it was a strong chal­lenge at all . . . the claim did not ac­tu­ally en­gage with the bit of the Ed­u­ca­tion Act that au­tho­rised the pro­gramme, and they didn’t seem to be en­tirely across the law on the matter. The sim­ple fact is, the law wasn’t on their side,’’ he said.

The uni­ver­sity and the ap­pli­cant had reached an agree­ment, which in­cluded an as­sur­ance from the uni­ver­sity that there would be greater trans­parency over its ad­mis­sions process in fu­ture.

The agree­ment does not in­clude any changes to the med­i­cal ad­mis­sions process, com­pen­sa­tion or com­mit­ments by the uni­ver­sity to change the out­come of any in­di­vid­ual’s ap­pli­ca­tion for ad­mis­sion. — RNZ

❛ So the pro­gramme can ex­ist and it doesn’t need to en­force the min­i­mum en­try re­quire­ments that nor­mal ap­pli­cants need to meet

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